[Movie Review] Halloween II (1981) ★★★☆☆

Halloween II swaps suspense for gore and bloody kills. 

Halloween II is a horror slasher and the direct sequel to Halloween (1978) as we follow Laurie Strode in the aftermath of the attack and kills by Michael Myers. While cinematographically its inferior and with more graphic deaths that are all about the gruesome kills, this film doesn’t add more value to the original story that had a cast-iron atmosphere of tension and suspense. 

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After Laurie Strode and Dr Loomis tried to kill Michael, who has disappeared, Laurie is brought to the hospital. But Michael follows her there to finish her off for good. At the hospital he starts his killing spree afresh and he slaughters some nurses and hospital staff. But Laurie is prepared and isn’t that easily to kill and Dr Loomis is determined to stop Michael, pursuing him once again. 

Why you should watch it

Halloween II doesn’t add much to the brilliant original story that had amazing cinematography, exceptional suspense and a strong focus on Laurie, her friends and the presence of stalker Michael. This second film feels rather forced. With only to kill for shock value while we don’t care for the victims any way. There’s not much tension, but instead, more naked nurses taking a bath in the hot tub instead of doing their job in a seemingly abandoned hospital at night, fooling around with the male nurses. There’s not much logic behind the kills and they only function to add more blood and gore, before he finally gets to Laurie. Who is smart enough to escape him and a quick learner. 

Outside the hospital an angry mob has gathered in front of Michael Myers old house. A car crashes into someone, who instantly sets on fire and is burned to ashes in no time. Which adds next to nothing to the story or to the tension. 

But the film does come up with an explanation why Michael is after Laurie. She was Michael’s baby-sister when he killed his older sister Judith. Also the inhumanity of Michael, is enhanced. His mask dehumanizes him, giving him no real face. The fact that he was shot, but walked away gives him that invincibility of a supernatural serial killer that can’t be destroyed, what is proven once again in the final scenes of this film. His dehumanization, his indestructibility make him a force of pure evil that never can be destroyed for it is a concept rather than a real person. His brutal kills in the hospital turn him even more into a killing machine that kills because that’s what he does, without maybe even feeling joy or something. That’s maybe the scariest and best part of the film, but you have to make an effort to see it this way. It’s not handed to you, like the kills and the illogical events. 

Because it’s still Halloween, the hospital nurses watch Night of the Living Dead (1968) on tv, while during Laurie’s ordeals, The Thing That Came from Another World (1951) was on, but was probably finished by then. 

Although some vibes and shots remind of Halloween, this films feels a bit lazy and too simplistic. There’s nothing but kills, and an explanation why he’s after Laurie but hardly any suspense. Only after Laurie wakes up and tries to overcome her sedation, the tension picks up a bit. 

My favorite part

When it’s Laurie’s move, then it becomes a cat-and-mouse game that feels more thrilling, but it takes a long time to get there. The fact that most of the time, she lies sedated and helpless in her hospital bed isn’t exciting at all. The spell of the first film is broken rather quickly and the fear of being followed, chased and almost killed isn’t palpable. I would have liked to see an epic battle between the final girl, who’s now reduced to an injured girl, and Michael. But that will happen 40 years later.


Rating: ★★★☆☆

Gore factor: ★★★★☆

Scare factor: ★★★☆☆

Gruesome factor: ★★★★☆

Entertainment factor: ★★★☆☆

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Cast and crew

Halloween II is directed by Rick Rosenthal and written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill. It stars Jamie Lee Curtis (Laurie Strode) and Donald Pleasence (Dr Sam Loomis).

Duration: 92 minutes. Music: John Carpenter, Alan Howarth. Cinematography: Dean Cundey. Edited by: Mark Goldblatt, Skip Schoolnik. Produced by: Debra Hill, John Carpenter. Production company: Dino De Laurentiis Entertainment, Universal Pictures. Distributed by: Universal Pictures.

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